The Man in the High Castle Season 2 Episodes 9 & 10 Recap: Detonation and Fallout

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We start episode 10, Fallout, with the only cold open of the season, maybe of the entire series so far. It’s December 11th, 1945. Smith and Helen arrive at a small cottage outside of Washington, DC. Helen is very pregnant with Thomas, who she says is kicking up a storm. As they’re settling in, an atomic bomb goes off in the distance, seen behind them through the cottage’s picture window. They realize the Nazis have bombed Washington. As we know from watching the series so far, this is the event that caused the Americans to surrender to the Nazis.

This little scene is one of my favorite things they’ve done so far. It’s so brief, but it tells us so much, and reminds us of so much. And it’s shot gorgeously. We start out watching the couple from inside the cottage with the camera at a slight distance, framing the room as if it were a family portrait or a painting. There’s even a Christmas song playing in the background. Everything is perfect for them, despite the war. The room is dark, and the sky is graying outside the window as the sun sets. They are in the dark about what is about to happen. Change is coming. John turns on the lights, and they discuss his work at the Pentagon and the baby, with Helen telling Smith that she thinks it’s a boy. They are working to keep their situation happy and normal, despite the war. As they’re talking, a loud rumbling starts, along with a flash of light. For a split second, you think it could be thunder and lightning, but the flashes and crashes continue. Helen and Smith turn toward the window, holding hands. They, and we, realize something is very wrong, but they are in this together. The camera pulls closer and closer to them, then finally between them, up to the window, where we finally see the red sky and mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb in the distance. This is the event that will eventually come between them. This is the episode where that comes to fruition. They walk toward the window, and the camera pulls around in front of them. Now the camera is outside the window, looking in. We’re in the Looking Glass world now, no longer the world that made sense just 5 minutes ago. We see the mushroom cloud reflected in the window while we see Smith and Helen at an angle and shadowed, through the window. Everything in their world and their futures is now off balance, askew, dark.

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